Doris Munoz on Casa Mija and exploring new avenues in the music industry

Casa Mija is a mentorship program that provides a creative home for those who want to learn more about the music industry.

From hosting guest speaker panels to facilitating peer breakout groups, Casa Mija provides free and accessible opportunities for industry education and networking. Below, we had the unique opportunity to sit down with founder Doris Munoz to discuss Casa Mija’s roots, mentorship, the importance of exploring new avenues in the music industry, and more—read on for highlights.

What were the beginnings of Casa Mija? Can you share the story behind its name and development?

Casa Mija started in 2017 as mija mgmt, really transitioning over from management to mentorship in my pandemic-induced pivot. That way, I could still help with the growth of this community, but through the lens of a larger impact that trickles down to hopefully many more artists and organizations—to the folks who are really hungry to work in the music industry, and who are passionate about it. And so, mija mgmt turned into a more broad-scale endeavor.

Casa Mija captures “bienvenidos a tu casa”—it’s a home for us. A lot of us didn’t really feel like we were at home; we felt out of place a lot of the time in the music industry, and so I wanted to create a welcoming environment for those starting out to feel like they are welcomed and do belong.

You all excel at representing a diverse blend of industry expertise in your programs, inviting everyone from publicists and agents to photographers and film directors. How does gaining an exposure to a wide array of fields and career paths benefit the modern creative?

Through this program, I wanted to create as diverse of a perspective as possible so that our mentees can understand that they don’t have to just stick to one avenue to enter the music industry. A lot of folks who enter the industry are self-starters who have that entrepreneurial mindset, and so they understand that where one starts isn’t where one ends. So, we can see how they can create their own path and forge their own way.

I really emphasize that no one’s journey is linear, and no one’s timeline looks the same. I want people to see and understand that there are so many possibilities within the music industry besides the most well-known jobs. The modern creative is really one who adapts with the times and can be as malleable as the industry needs. We aim to show that there’s so many of us who exist in different chapters and different areas of the music industry and beyond.

Why are mentorship and accessibility to education crucial in respect to both artistry as well as career development?

Mentorship is everything as long as you are willing to learn—as long as you are willing to lay down any ego at the door and really be a sponge, and have a heart of service to understand how mentorship really works. It’s an exchange of energy, knowledge, and love. People who are trying to find their way need to see that it’s been done and that it’s possible; if someone is developing as an artist or as a future executive, they need to see that the groundwork has been laid by others because there’s been an uphill battle that has been climbed in some way or another. The exchange that happens in mentorship is about giving and receiving as well.

How can the creators in our audience become involved with the Casa Mija community?

There are multiple platforms that people can use to get involved—through Instagram, the Discord, and by reaching out to one another. This is for us, by us; it’s community-run, and as we’re pivoting into a quarterly format, there will be four programs where people can tap into the partnerships that we build throughout the year. Keep posted on our Instagram for job opportunities that get sent our way. Showing up is how you can get involved in anything.

How can the larger music community help cultivate spaces that are more inclusive for everyone?

Someone can take this method and apply it to their own corner of the industry: imagine how expansive and diverse this landscape could actually look like. I’ve seen it through friends who come to me and ask for advice on who they should hire, or what interns I can recommend, etc., and I love that. It makes me feel good to know that we’ve alley-oop’ed well-deserving people who are seeking the knowledge and are seeking the path that can put their energy towards a project.

So, take someone under your wing and pass on knowledge—that’s how you can cultivate spaces of inclusivity. Invite your interns to the events, show them this world, and introduce them to people. The way we learn is through real-life experiences, and if you’re working in this industry, you’re most likely a people-person so throw them in the water. You’ll see the trickle-down effect that happens and how these full-circle moments and connections can happen along the way.

What are your thoughts on how we as an industry can pay it forward and shine the light on new and upcoming female and non-binary music creators?

This is really important, because as we shine the light and support these creatives, we need to pave the way for more femme and non-binary producers. As an industry, creating initiatives that spotlight these creatives and making consciously diverse decisions on who to work with is a great place to start. Social media is really a great place for people to connect now to see what people’s portfolios look like and give credit where credit is due. This allows people to continue working and bring new faces that look like them into the fold.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us that you didn’t have the opportunity to mention above?

I say this all the time, but I’d encourage those who are seeking mentorship, education, and community to come with a good spirit, a heart of service, and just eagerness to learn—to share whatever good energy and knowledge you can contribute to the space. That really shows, and people want to be surrounded by that kind of energy.

For executives in the space who are asking themselves how they can pay it forward, they should also be asking themselves, “How can I do better?” It’s really a bare minimum effort if you’re in a position to invite an intern to coffee in your company, or if you can even provide an internship opportunity for those who aren’t necessarily the usual go-to candidates. I encourage those in power to give people a shot, because who knows how that can impact the rest of their lives. I think people in this industry need to understand the weight that they carry and the impact they can create, and the lives that they can change.

Learn more about Casa Mija and other organizations, artists, and creators who are creating a permanent, prevalent place for non-male creators in the industry:

March 30, 2022

Harrison Shimazu

Harrison Shimazu is a composer, content strategist, and writer who’s passionate about democratizing music creation and education. He leads the Splice blog and creates music as Namaboku.